Barr, Chao announce TIGER grant in Frankfort; Avoid talking Blankenship

05/04/2018 04:28 PM

FRANKFORT — U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao appeared alongside U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, in at Second Street School in Frankfort to announce a grant to redevelop the street in the state’s capital city.

Barr faces a tough re-election bid this year, as Democrats battle it out for the nomination to challenge the Republican in the swing district. The Lexington Congressman has brought other high level officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, to hold policy summits and make announcements with him this year.

On Friday, Barr and Chao announced the $8 million TIGER grant for the Second Street project, which was awarded in part because of matching money from the state and city, Chao said.

Chao told an audience of elementary students and Frankfort officials that 452 eligible grant applications were received and only 41 selected. Chao lauded the work of Barr in securing the funding. The city of Frankfort gave $3.2 million, the state Transportation Cabinet kicked in $750,000, and the Frankfort Plant Board gave $425,000 for the project, according to the city commissioner.

It’s unusual for the US Secretary of Transportation to personally deliver an $8 million grant for a community project. However, Barr said there wasn’t anything unusual about this trip from Chao.

The trip comes not only amid the midterm elections, but as U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Chao are being drug into the political fray by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Don Blankenship in the West Virginia primary. Blankenship has unleashed what some say are racist attacks on Chao, and her family and dubbed McConnell “cocaine Mitch” in ads.

Chao refused to speak to several reporters after the event. Barr also sought to dodge questions on Blankenship when asked following the speech.

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